Campervan Hire New Zealand by:Murtaza Fidahusen
Getting to set out exploring New Zealand in a Spaceship is something that people are lucky enough to do every day, but setting out in a Hybrid model takes this luck to a level of luxury! I was fortunate enough to take one of these beautiful vehicles for a weekend away up to the Bay of Islands.
FRI - Just finished work and am getting the grand tour through Machina Electrica, learning all about the bells and whistles of this fascinating vehicle. We were lucky enough to be given a very thorough explanation of the hybrid but as my partner and I both discovered, we were a little bit too excited about the whole thing to have actually listened. Note to self, when someone is explaining information to you about how something works, it is best to listen and stop your mind racing a million miles an hour thinking about all the fantastic things you are about to see!
We arrived in Paihia about 11pm at night after being stuck in typical Friday afternoon traffic leaving Auckland and some roadworks along the way. Nothing could faze us however and we easily found some signs leading us to a camper van allowed pay and display car park that would be our sleeping arrangements for the night.
SAT - Waking bright and early Sat morning to get to our day tour which left just after 7:30am we headed out of our Spaceship to find where we had slept the night before was also housing about 20 other camper vans. We must have hit the jackpot as nothing looked as beautiful as our bright orange Machina! We headed to a local bakery for some brekkie and chatted to the owners who were talking to us about the Keri Keri half marathon assuming that was why we were in town. As I scoffed down my pie for breakfast they changed their mind very quickly and asked where we were from. I love the friendly nature of small town New Zealand, who when they ask about you, are actually interested in what you have to say.
We then headed down to the wharf which was where our BRUCK (truck front, bus back) was picking us up from to take part in the Dune rider tour. We were welcomed on board by the friendly driver and took our seats on what was going to be a very long, but very rewarding day. My partner and I both noted how spacious the vehicle was which considering my partner is nothing short of a giant, was very much welcomed and incredibly comfortable for the both of us.
We were out on the road and soon at our first stop, a Maori Pa site that overlooked the beautiful Doubtless Bay. A few of us were willing to brave the windy conditions and take a short walk to the top of the site which was definitely worth being blown around for - the view was stunning! We then hopped back on board and headed for our morning tea and lunch pick up spot of Coopers Beach cafe which impressed me very much by the variety of food on offer.
Then it was on to Gumdiggers park where we were greeted by a gumboot fence and learnt that the term gumboot came from New Zealand which everyone was very surprised by. This place is amazing! Surrounded by ancient Kauri trees we got out and stretched our legs on a short stroll through part of the forest and were shown through ancient gumdiggers huts and stores. You could really feel the history of the place and were in complete awe as we walked through these massive trees that had seen so much in the world throughout their time. Now it was time to head to the top (or bottom if you go by Maori legend) of the North Island to see the beautiful Cape Reinga.
Along the way, we stopped off at the giant sand dunes and rode on the bus through Te Paki stream or quick sand stream as the locals call it. I was very happy to have someone else with so much experience driving through this terrain, as I was not feeling very confident we could have made it otherwise!! A huge walk up the dunes (which I nearly gave up on half way through as I couldn't see me making it to the top) and a thrilling ride down on a boogie board I felt like a kid again and enjoyed every single minute of it .
Hearing the Maori tales of the Cape being where spirits come on their journey back to their ancestor's homeland, I was prepared for a place of huge spiritual meaning - I was not disappointed. Seeing the 2 oceans (Pacific ocean and Tasman Sea) come together is something that words just can not describe. My partner and I spent a good 40 minutes out at the Cape just appreciating how lucky we were to be able to see this with our own eyes and enjoying every minute of it.
After such an awakening it was then back to our BRUCK to make our way to 90 mile beach. A beach that is only actually 60 miles in length, really does feel like 90 miles of white sand and pure beauty. Indulging myself in a bit of the Tuatua twist I discovered this beach was abundant with seafood and shellfish which got my tummy rumbling and scheduled the end of our 90 mile beach visit as it was time to head elsewhere.
Heading back to Paihia we stopped off along the way at Wanui and the ancient Kaori Museum which had the most elaborate staircase built inside the trunk of an enormous Kaori tree and then Mongonui fish and chip shop which is famous amongst New Zealanders and allowed me to get my seafood fix after getting so hungry at 90 mile beach earlier. Then we were back in Paihia and ready to get to a camp ground for the night.
SUN - We were lucky enough to have a bit of a sleep in as our Dolphin Discovery tour didn't start until 9am. This cruise took us around some of the 144 islands that make up the beautiful Bay of Islands in the most comfortable catamaran. As someone who often gets sea sick, I am very pleased to say even though the water was very choppy, I remained feeling incredibly healthy. The cruise took us searching for dolphins through the scenic Bay and right through the hole in the rock. Going through an island on a catamaran is something that sounds surreal but is seriously an amazing experience. From here our cruise through the islands continued and included tails of Maori battles and European battles - we were lucky enough to set foot on one of the islands and walk up another Pa site. This site was an extremely important one as it was where France tried to colonise New Zealand not realising Britain had done so years earlier. The island itself is gorgeous with perfect white sandy beaches and crystal clear water. This cruise lasted about 4 hours and really did cover the islands at a high level. Obviously to visit all 144 islands would take much longer, but all the major islands and important sites were covered and having the time to get off the boat and explore an island really just capped it off. A welcome crew member on board the catamaran was a photographer! She took photos of everyone on the tour and all places we visited. This is perfect especially if your camera was to be left behind of batteries stop working. All in all the entire weekend was perfect, it was difficult to come home and head back to reality.
About the author
Murtaza has written authoritative articles on campervan in New Zealand and he is currently assisting Campervan Hire New Zealand , Campervan Hire Australia and Campervan Hire United Kingdom for exciting adventure.